• Application 11505-2016
• Admitted 1968
• Hearings 10 and 11 January
• Reasons 6 February 2017
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice as a solicitor for the period of one year to commence on 11 January 2017.
Upon the expiry of that suspension the respondent would be subject to the following conditions: he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; hold client money; be a signatory on any client account; or work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA. There was liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.
The respondent had failed to take steps to ensure an orderly and transparent wind-down of activities and/or closure of his practice by 31 December 2013, having entered into a cessation period under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013, in that on 20 January 2014 the firm continued to hold client files, and on 2 April 2014 continued to hold client monies, in breach of principles 5, 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome 10.13 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
The respondent had failed to ensure compliance with rules 7, 29.1, 29.9, 29.12 and 29.13 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and had consequently acted in breach of principles 4, 7, 8 and 10.
The respondent had used client money for his own purposes in breach of rule 20 of the 2011 rules.
The respondent had failed to discharge his duty as compliance officer for finance and administration by not informing the SRA of the breaches of the 2011 rules, in breach of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011.
The respondent had failed and/or delayed in complying with undertakings in a compliance plan dated 5 December 2013 with the SRA and in doing so had breached principle 7 and had failed to achieve outcome 11.2 of the 2011 code.
By virtue of the significant delay in the administration of the C estate, specifically the period from November 1999 to February 2015, the respondent had acted in breach of (from November 1999) rule 1(c) and (e) (Basic Principles) of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990; (from 1 July 2007) rules 1.04 and 1.05 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007; and (from 6 October 2011) principles 4 and 5.
The respondent had delayed in progressing the St Mark’s Social Club matter during the period May 2006 to February 2015 in breach of (from May 2006 to 30 June 2007) rules 1(c) and (e) (Basic Principles) of the 1990 rules; (from 1 July 2007) rules 1.04 and 1.05 of the 2007 code; and (from 6 October 2011) principles 4 and 5.
The respondent had had no motive for his misconduct; it had arisen through his inaction which had not been planned.
He had made admissions but at a late stage and it did not appear that he had genuine insight as he seemed to blame others for some of his difficulties.
The seriousness of his misconduct was such that a suspension was the appropriate sanction.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £16,881.